The current situation in the House “is embarrassing for the Republican Party. It’s embarrassing for the nation. And we need to look at one another and solve the problem,” a senior member of the House said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. That wasn’t House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries or Minority Whip Katherine Clark. It was Kevin McCarthy, the Republican former speaker.
It wasn’t a one-off for McCarthy, who on Friday told reporters that Republicans “are in a very bad position as a party.” And McCarthy is not the only Republican saying things like this.
“The world’s on fire. This is so dangerous, what we’re doing,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said on ABC’s “This Week.” “And most importantly, it’s embarrassing because it empowers and emboldens our adversaries like [Chinese President] Chairman Xi [Jinping] who says, you know, democracy doesn’t work.”
McCaul’s own party is determined to break democracy, and his opposition to that has been tepid at best: He voted against an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and he voted against impeaching Donald Trump following that attack. So he doesn’t get much credit for thinking then-Vice President Mike Pence did the right thing by certifying the election—because McCaul’s not willing to do anything about efforts to overturn the election. Now he says what his party is doing is “dangerous” and “embarrassing,” but McCaul had his chance to try to change the party’s direction—and he didn’t take it.
It’s not just McCarthy and McCaul’s weekend hand-wringing. Republicans have been lamenting their own party’s dysfunction throughout their 20 speakerless days. Again, though, what they haven’t been doing is trying to seriously wrest their party from the extremists.
Last week, as Republicans talked about the possibility of expanding Rep. Patrick McHenry’s powers as speaker pro tempore, Rep. Jim Banks was horrified. "What they're doing right now is walking the Republicans off the plank," Banks said. "We don't deserve the majority if we go along with a plan to give the Democrats control over the House of Representatives. It's a giant betrayal to our Republican voters," Banks added.
Banks, of course, was expressing angst over the possibility that Republicans would compromise a teeny bit in order to be able to govern. That’s one of the party’s problems: Some members think it’s a shameful surrender to try to get things done.
Also last week, Rep. Eli Crane, one of the eight Republicans who voted to toss McCarthy out, said, “I don’t think a lot of people here in this conference actually give a s--- what the American people want.”
The sense among House Republicans that things aren’t going well stretches back even further.
“This is a bad episode of ‘Veep,’” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis said after Majority Leader Steve Scalise dropped out of contention for speaker, “and it’s turning into ‘House of Cards.’” In the same New York Times article, Rep. Don Bacon said, “We’re not a governing body and we should be.”
That was more than 10 days ago. Things have not gotten better since. It feels like Republicans may have moved on from “House of Cards” to “Game of Thrones.”
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